ALPAS: Beautiful gem of an album

In this TikTok-saturated world of ours, there came ALPAS: Awit at Letra ng mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining. I say how refreshing it is to come across this beautiful gem of an album. It is made up of music, words and arrangements by Philippine National Artists interpreted by the Philippine Madrigal Singers.

How right that it was released this year which marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Order of National Artists. I am not sure if this is the first recording of this kind. If it is, then it took a long time coming. Now that it is finally here, I say it should be the first of a series.

We make a big deal of the announcement of the names of our National Artists for Music. We are told of their accomplishments. But most of the time, only those who frequent concert events have any idea of the sound of the music they created and continue to create. That is because nobody made the effort to popularize their works.

Just think of all those compositions and performances by the best artists of this country just waiting to be discovered. So many of them are now asleep in storage. They should be taken out and performed, and most of all, recorded to be disseminated everywhere and at the same time preserved digitally for the enjoyment of generations to come.

Take note of the title of the album, ALPAS, which means to be free. Maka-alpas, to be free from bondage. I guess that was what happened to the music included in the album. They are now available for the public to enjoy on discs and on digital platforms. So give a listen and find out why Francisco Feliciano and Ernani Cuenco deserved to be conferred the honor.

Included in ALPAS are the following:

Restless by National Artist for Music Francisco Feliciano. This is dedicated to National Artist for Music and founder of the Philippine Madrigal Singers Andrea Veneracion.

Alitaptap, a composition by Josefino Chino Toledo, with lyrics based on a poem written by National Artist for Theater and Literature Rolando Tinio.

Hatinggabi by National Artist for Music Antonio Molina with lyrics by National Artist for Music and Literature Levi Celerio.

A medley of songs from Noli Me Tangere, the Musical with libretto written by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera based on the novel by Jose Rizal with music by National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab.

Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal with music by National Artist for Music Ernani Cuenco and words by Celerio. A popular version of this song was recorded by Celeste Legaspi, who is herself the daughter of National Artist for Painting Cesar Legaspi.

Prelude Etnika composed by National Artist for Music Lucrecia Kasilag.

Sa Ugoy ng Duyan composed by National Artist for Music Lucio San Pedro with lyrics by Celerio. This is a big favorite among our pop artists and there are versions by Lea Salonga, Ice Seguerra and others.

Payapang Daigdig with music by National Artist for Music Felipe de Leon and words by Eduardo de Leon and Brigido Batungbakal. Composed to celebrate the end of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, it has since become a favorite Christmas song.

Tuksuhan is made up of various Filipino folk songs like Bahay Kubo produced by National Artist for Music Dr. Ramon Santos.

Paraiso with words and music by Cayabyab that was originally a big hit for the group Smokey Mountain.

Bahay Kubo, an arrangement for choir by Veneracion of the well-loved folk song.

Sambayan was written by National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario and arranged for an accompanying choir by Toledo.

It does not take much to be able to enjoy ALPAS. It only takes a few minutes on YouTube to listen to these songs. And with the impeccable vocal artistry of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, it is really quite a treat.

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